SEOUL, March 20 (Korea Bizwire) – Acting President Hwang Gyo-Ahn’s leadership is being questioned as public criticism grows over the government’s passive attitude towards China’s THAAD retaliation.
Critics in South Korea are voicing concern over the apparent lack of countermeasures and complaints from government officials in the face of a series of retaliatory acts from Beijing, including the closing down of more than 63 Lotte Mart stores in China.
Though the nature of diplomacy with a powerful country like China is not simple, seemingly nothing is being done by the government to ease the burden of Chinese retaliation against South Korean companies.
In response to the news that economic retaliation is being ordered by the Chinese government last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Yu Il-ho explained, “Though there is a strong suspicion that the government engaged in retaliatory action against South Korea, we don’t have evidence.”
Speaking to reporters at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting, Yu said, “The Chinese retaliation against South Korea is palpable, but without a legal entity behind the action, no measure can be taken on a national level.”
Others have criticized the government for taking too long to come up with measures to cushion the economic damage felt by South Korean businesses.
It took exactly 15 days for the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-hwan to meet with industry officials who were heavily hit by China’s retaliation to discuss the situation and hear their opinions.
Since the decision to deploy the THAAD anti-missile system was made last July, the Chinese government has been blatant with their anti-South Korean measures to make their stance clear on the issue.
Unexpected raids for health and safety checks at South Korean business establishments, including Lotte Mart stores, which saw many branches shut down, and giving orders to travel agencies to cut the number of visitors to the country are just a couple of examples of Chinese retaliation.
One industry expert said in despair, “As someone who runs a business in China, it’s devastating to see my government do little to nothing to protect the interests of its citizens and their business. There’s nowhere to turn for South Korean business owners in China.”
Recently, a Chinese woman made headlines after video footage of her illegally stealing food and damaging property at a Lotte Mart store went viral.
Of 99 Lotte Mart locations in China, only 20 remain in operation as of today.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)